The Stranger Wilde: Interpreting Oscar

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Dutton, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 494 pages
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The Stranger Wilde sidesteps standard chronological biography to provide a brilliant portait drawn from Wilde's own writings and the observations of his contemporaries and later critics, set against the backdrop of Victorian convention, which was to undo him in the end. Here is Wilde in all his many guises: as flamboyant Oxford undergraduate, as aesthete in America, as son and brother, as husband and father, as lover and seducer of young men. Here is the celebrated author of The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray and the outrageous figure who went deliberately, defiantly to ruin and imprisonment. Even confirmed Wilde connoisseurs will find this book full of surprises. And for those who know him only as a writer of scathing wit and scandalous appeal, this dazzling biography will introduce a complex, paradoxical artist of genius, whose legend pales beside the provocative and fascinating truth.

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The stranger Wilde: interpreting Oscar

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In a work that is part biography, part literary criticism, and mostly performance art, Schmidgall ( Shakespeare and Opera , Oxford Univ. Pr., 1990) introduces a Wilde who is indeed a stranger to the ... Read full review

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If you are looking for a conventional, chronological biography of Oscar Wilde, that most unconventional person, this book is not for you. However, for an examination of the multifarious and sometimes contradictory aspects of his personality and personae, this is an excellent place to look. I have read many of Wilde's works and many books about Wilde and his circle and this one definitely has added to my understanding of him. In particular, the analysis of his marriage and parenting goes beyond anything I have read regarding the relationships he had with his wife Constance and his sons. What I would advise before reading this book if you are really interested in the details of his life, read Richard Ellmann's biography together with Neil McKenna's Secret Life of Oscar Wilde. That will provide a framework that will enrich your experience with The Stranger Wilde. 


Chapter One Seeing Oscar
Chapter Two Trespasser
Chapter Four Arbiter Elegantiarum

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About the author (1994)

Gary Schmidgall is the author of several studies of Shakespeare and biographies of Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman. He has been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Mellon and Guggenheim Foundations.

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